Eleni Tsirintani

|Landscape Architect

Blog: Small Scale Fire Wise Landscapes

“fire” by pozek is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Small Scale Fire Wise Landscapes


Wildfires have become a repetitive phenomenon that returns every year, only to leave extended damages and destroyed areas. Natural landscapes benefit and outlive wildfires as part of their natural regeneration processes. But what happens with man-made landscapes? How can we protect both our lives and our properties from such a catastrophe?

As with most disasters in this case prevention is everything. Certain design principles when shaping the exterior space of our property could actually prove extremely important in case of a wildfire.


It is crucial to create surfaces free of vegetation or planted with specific plants between your property and any dense adjacent green spaces such as woodlands or other types of natural areas. The plant-free zone will not allow the wildfire come anywhere close to your home.


It is vital to underline that any plant can burn, no matter what we choose. However, there are plants that ignite less easily such as succulents (Aloe, Agave, cacti and so on) or deciduous trees like Mulberry tree.

This won’t suggest that one should exclude all other plants from their garden; however density, combination and proximity to the house are very important factors to take into consideration when designing a fire wise landscape.


The variation in heights when planting near the house, the accumulation of easily flammable plants and poor maintenance are parameters that could prove very damaging in case of a wildfire.

Tall trees should be kept away from any built volumes. All upright trees should be pruned in order to maintain a clear trunk from the ground up to a certain height. This will prevent the fire from climbing up to the tree tops.

Vegetation free zones with gravel or other hardscape elements can work very efficiently as defensible space between possible flammable surfaces.

Maintenance routine will keep a landscape fire wise. Make sure that there is no overgrown vegetation or that the clusters are not absolutely continuous in a way that it would create a “bridge” for the flames to reach your house.

It is also important to ensure that there is an infrastructure that could help in case of fire such as water sources strategically allocated on the exterior space or routes and accesses that will allow for help to arrive on time.

Shopping Basket